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Shrub Oak Church Removes Police Chief From Teaching Program Over Child Porn Charge

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli. / Photo Provided to Patch.
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli. / Photo Provided to Patch.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church officials have removed Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli from teaching in its religious education program after he was arrested Thursday on federal child pornography charges.

"Be assured that Mr. Fanelli will no longer be permitted to serve as a catechist," Sara Koshofer, a member of the church’s religious education program, wrote in a letter that was sent to parents. 

Fanelli, 54, of Mahopac, was arrested at his home on Jan. 23 at 11:30 a.m. and posted $50,000 bail in federal court in White Plains Thursday afternoon.

"Please know that our primary concern has always been for the safety and wellbeing of your children," Koshofer said in the letter. 

She added that Fanelli had passed two required background checks and completed the required "Safe Environment Training."

Fanelli has been charged with one count of possessing child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

He told investigating federal agents that his personal collection of child porn originated from researching material for sexual abuse school classes he was teaching, a 10-page “United States of America v. Brian Fanelli” complaint detailed.

What started out as research soon turned into a recreational habit in which Fanelli used the material for "personal interest," according to the complaint.

Koshofer wrote in the letter that although it does not appear Fanelli's arrest has anything to do with his duties as a catechist, church officials are cooperating with the authorities in their investigation. 

"We want you to be aware of the situation as it has already become public," she wrote to parents. "I have informed Monsignor Sandi and Deacon Julaino, and Sister Gabriel, the principal of our school. [...] Out of respect for the law enforcement authorities, we will have no further comment."

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